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Cool and Lam (1958)

Light-hearted pilot for a proposed CBS detective series featuring characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner (under the pseudonym of A.A. Fair). Penny-pinching, rotund Bertha Cool runs a ... See full summary »


Jacques Tourneur


Erle Stanley Gardner (characters) (as A.A. Fair), Edmund L. Hartmann (teleplay) (as Edmund Hartman)


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Credited cast:
Billy Pearson Billy Pearson ... Donald Lam
Benay Venuta ... Bertha Cool
Maurice Manson Maurice Manson ... Dr. Lintig
Margaret Field Margaret Field ... Marion Dunton (as Maggy Mahoney)
Judith Bess Jones Judith Bess Jones ... Elsie Brand
Sheila Bromley ... Flo Mortonson
Don Megowan ... John Harbet
Movita ... Carmen
Allison Hayes ... Evaline Dell (as Alison Hayes)
John Mitchum ... Bartender
Tristram Coffin ... Thatcher
Alex Sharp Alex Sharp ... Plainclothesman (as Alex Sharpe)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Erle Stanley Gardner ... Himself


Light-hearted pilot for a proposed CBS detective series featuring characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner (under the pseudonym of A.A. Fair). Penny-pinching, rotund Bertha Cool runs a detective agency while her diminutive junior partner Donald Lam provides the legs and padded expense account. In the pilot, Lam's investigation of infidelity leads to murder. Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

1958 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Maggie Mahoney is actually billed Maggy Mahoney. She is Sally Field's mother. See more »


[first lines]
Thatcher: Mr. Lam...
Donald Lam: Yes?
Thatcher: Remember me, Conway Thatcher? Two years ago, my partner disappeared. I was accused of murder.
Donald Lam: Of course! Your partner was Frazier Dunlap. I found him in Bakersfield and brought him back. How's everything now?
Thatcher: Oh, he ran off again - with my wife and all my money. Thanks for bringing him back.
[Thatcher slugs Lam in the jaw knocking Lam against Bertha's secretary's desk]
Elsie Brand: Are you all right, Mr. Lam?
Donald Lam: Yeah... if you like starting your day with a punch in the jaw.
Elsie Brand: At least...
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User Reviews

Better reading than filming.
8 June 2016 | by westernoneSee all my reviews

When they put this together, they were banking on Gardner's huge success with Perry Mason could be transferred to his other literary creations, private detectives Cool & Lam, they being the stars of a dozen or so successful books.

But the actual execution is problematic. Cool is a big wide matron with white hair who deals with clients and Lam is a very short man who does the detective work, and getting all the lumps. They look comical together, which runs against the overall material because you must take the crime solvers seriously for it to work. These two are more suitable for a burlesque routine. They have little charisma. It's as if they take it for granted you know these characters well already. She's supposed to be a cheapskate. okay, but she says a "cheap" thing, even when it's unnecessary-again and again, like an excuse for a personality.

But there isn't enough time to really develop any chemistry between the leads or for that matter, the story either. There's far too many clues and details to remember for a less than half hour story. If this had been in an hour format, it would flow better and been less confusing. Gardner himself (sitting in the Perry Mason office set on the sound stage at Paisano productions) makes the pitch for sponsors at the opening, but even he seems in a hurry.

Maybe this pair work out in reading their stories, but they're too cutsey and fake to be taken seriously enough here, even if the intention was to deliver a lightweight, Runyonesque farce.

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